Strawberry as a health promoter: an evidence based review
Since a high intake of fruits and vegetables is inversely related to the incidence of several degenerative diseases, the importance of a balanced diet in relation to human health has received increased consumer attention worldwide. Strawberries (Fragaria X ananassa, Duch.) are a rich source of a wide variety of nutritive compounds such as sugars, vitamins, and minerals, as well as non-nutritive, bioactive compounds such as flavonoids, anthocyanins and phenolic acids. All of these compounds exert a synergistic and cumulative effect on human health promotion and in disease prevention. Strawberry phenolics are indeed able (i) to detoxify free radicals blocking their production, (ii) to modulate the expression of genes involved in metabolism, cell survival and proliferation and antioxidant defense, and (iii) to protect and repair DNA damage. The overall objective of the present review is to update and discuss the key findings, from recent in vivo studies, on the effects of strawberries on human health. Particular attention will be paid to the molecular mechanisms proposed to explain the health effects of polyphenols against the most common diseases related to oxidative stress driven pathologies, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases, and inflammation.